A drama by Brian Friel; Directed by Katherine Burke
In Celtic folklore, Lughnasa (pronounced with the “gh” silent: LOO-nuh-suh) is an annual festival marking the end of the summer growing season and the beginning of the fall harvest. In this drama, set in rural Ireland in 1936, the festival is in full swing when we meet the five unmarried Mundy sisters – Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rose and Chris – who live a life of limited financial means in their small village.
The play’s action unfolds through the narration of Michael, the illegitimate son of Chris. In the play, Michael speaks as an adult narrator, mining his childhood memories to relate the events of this fateful summer of 1936 (when he was only seven years old). His narration serves as a framing device to magnify one of the play’s central themes: the experience of change against the forces of tradition.
As he looks back on those days, Michael describes the summer of 1936 as a pivotal time for the Mundy family. He describes this time in his youth as presenting "a sense of…things changing too quickly before my eyes." Europe is on the brink of war, and incredible changes are coming to disrupt the Mundy family’s rural life. For example, the opening of a knitwear factory threatens the small income that Agnes and Rose derive from making gloves inside the home.
Recently returned home is the sisters’ brother, Jack, a priest, back after a 25-year stint as a Catholic missionary in a leper colony in Uganda. Jack is recuperating from malaria, and his condition causes him to be forgetful. What’s more, he has begun to question his Catholic faith – which promises to cause friction with his sister Kate, an upright schoolteacher who, as the only real wage earner in the family, stands as the leader of the household.
Another disruption for the Mundy family comes in the unexpected arrival of Gerry, the father of Michael. A charming yet undependable man, Gerry creates tension in the Mundy household by offering once again to marry Chris.
In spite of the financial hardships and complicated family ties, the Mundy women experience occasional bursts of merriment by way of their radio. Against the backdrop of the ongoing Lughnasa festivities, the radio brings 1930s dance music and traditional Irish melodies into the home – inspiring the sisters to burst into spontaneous dancing. Though altogether fleeting, the radio’s periodic outbursts – and the dancing that it inspires – help to soothe the women’s harsh existence. Dancing and laughing through their tears, the five Mundy sisters embrace a life filled with equal amounts of happiness and heartbreak.
Dancing at Lughnasa was first performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, on April 24, 1990. The production transferred to the National Theatre in London, England, in October 1990, and thereafter won the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Play. In America, the play opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on Oct. 24, 1991, where it played for 421 performances before closing on Oct. 25, 1992. The New York production was nominated for eight Tony Awards and won three of them (including Best Play). The original Broadway production also won two 1992 Drama Desk Awards. Most recently, New York City’s Irish Repertory Theatre revived Dancing at Lughnasa for an off-Broadway production; it closed in January after a limited run. Dancing at Lughnasa has also been adapted into a film. Starring Meryl Streep in the role of Kate Mundy, the 1998 movie version was named one of the Top 10 Films of 1998 by the National Board of Review.
DEDE KLEIN (Kate Mundy) was last seen in our Dietz Theatre as Stevie in Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, for which she was honored with a Chanticleer Award. She has also performed at Coach House Theatre, Ohio Shakespeare Festival, the Beck Center for the Arts, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre and Aurora Community Theatre. Some of her most memorable roles include Sister Aloysius in Doubt, Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, Judith Bliss in Hay Fever, Hannah in Angels in America (parts one and 2) and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Dede is a retired International Flight Attendant now spending her time on the ground with Bear, Percy and CeCe.
BRENDA REDMOND (Maggie Mundy) is pleased to be back on the Weathervane stage. Her last appearance here was in Neil Simon's The Dinner Party. Brenda has worked at various theaters around the Cleveland area. Her favorite roles include Suzy in Wait Until Dark at Aurora Community Theatre, Tansy in The Nerd at Coach House Theater, and Ruella in Communicating Doors at Aurora Community Theatre. Brenda thanks her friends and coworkers, including "the pod," Linda, and Kimberly, for their continued support. Brenda also thanks Katherine and her amazing castmates for making this such a great experience. “You guys rock!!”
KAYLA MCDONALD (Agnes Mundy) is currently a theatre major at Kent State University and is excited to be making her Weathervane debut. She is no stranger to the stage, and her most recent credits include The Crucible as Mercy Lewis, Celia in As You Like It and Annie in Chicago. She has previously performed with Kent State University, Ensemble Theatre, Great Lakes Medieval Festival, the Beck Center for the Arts and at many other venues. She has also made her film debut in the movie The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty-Something. Kayla is also a proud equestrian and has ridden horses for 13 years. She thanks this wonderful cast for all their work, her family (both real and faux), Rocky and Katherine for this opportunity. TPOG.
HANNAH STORCH (Rose Mundy) is a theatre major/English minor at Kent State University and is excited to be performing at Weathervane again. You may remember her from Three Tall Women in our Dietz Theatre earlier this season. Past credits include The Nurse in Jet of Blood and Mother in Six Characters in Search of an Author (both at Kent State University), Iras in Antony and Cleopatra at Cleveland Shakespeare Festival and Bombalurina in Cats at Near West Theatre. She has worked with the Ravenna Police Station in Crisis Training Scenarios and is a member of Alpha Psi Omega Beta Psi Cast. Hannah thanks her family for their love and support, Ebby (for always making her smile), and her onstage sisters, who have been an absolute joy to work with. TPOG.
KELSEY HAMILTON (Christina Mundy) is currently a sophomore at Kent State University. Favorite past roles include Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast and Sheila in A Chorus Line. She thanks her family for their incredible support.
SID FREEMAN (Jack Mundy) – Prominent Uniontown attorney and retired swim coach, he is thrilled to be on the Weathervane stage performing his usual tricks. He was last seen as John Campbell in the Western Reserve Playhouse production of Be My Baby. Sid’s favorite character was “Mingo” in the Porta Potty Players production of Daughter of Dr. Fu. His interests include winemaking and wine-drinking. Sid thanks his wife, Ruth, and W.P. His performance is in memory of Fr. Tim and Fr. Crispin, O.F.M., and Virginia Hanlon.
ZACH GRIFFIN (Gerry Adams) is delighted to be a part of Lughnasa as his first Weathervane production. He is a sophomore communication major and theater minor at Kent State University, with this being his first show outside of a school setting. During his time at Brunswick High School, he started theater during his junior year and participated in such works as Macbeth as Macduff, Noises Off as Frederick Fellows/Phillip Brent, and Scapino! as Scapino. While at KSU, his credits include Cloud 9 as Betty/Gerry, and Mr. Marmalade as Mr. Marmalade. He thanks the cast and crew for being a general merriment to work with as well as Katherine for granting him this opportunity, his mom and dad for the support and freedom to do what he loves, and Kelly for being so shrewd and fetching.
JOE DUNN (Michae Evans) – This is Joe's second show at Weathervane Playhouse. He played Edmund Tyrone in last season's production of Long Day's Journey into Night. He is a recent graduate of Kent State University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in theatre studies. Along with performing there, he has been in productions with Dobama Theatre, Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, Porthouse Theatre, Actors' Summit, Cleveland Play House Fusion Fest, Ohio Shakespeare Festival, Theater Ninjas, and Tri-C Western Campus. “Thank you to Katherine for this opportunity and everyone who has supported me along the way. Enjoy the show!”